Patchogue resident Tashana Small has been cooking for most of her life from the age of 14, she said, but she created her signature macaroni-and-cheese cupcakes while experimenting in the kitchen with her sister around the holidays, back in 2014. It wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that Small brought her popular treats back to life as part of her own business, Tashana’s Kitchen.
Small previously had an inconsistent catering business for about 15 years due to her being a single mother of two. Her kids have always been her priority, she said, explaining that she has been a caregiver for her disabled daughter and focused on giving her son a fulfilling, safe childhood that would best set him up for success. Once her son turned 18, she made the jump to do something for herself and pursue her dreams. The mac-and-cheese cupcake creations with toppings, she decided, would be her differentiator as a chef and an entrepreneur.
“I turned 50 at that time and I said, ‘My next half will be my best half,’ and I’ve been consistent,” she said. “And so many doors have been opening through the process. So many great opportunities are coming about.”
Small doesn’t operate out of a brick-and-mortar store, but her Patchogue home, as well as a shared kitchen in Amityville. She travels with her food to farmers’ markets, food festivals, and other events across Long Island. Additionally, she receives business from residents who hire her for catering jobs.
The majority of her reviews consist of customers praising her unprecedented level of customer care and professionalism (in addition to raving about the taste and quality of her food). She prioritizes integrity, character, and the way she treats people, she said.
Her ultimate goal, she said, is to have her own food trailer so she can have the flexibility of traveling and selling her food from anywhere she chooses.
“There’s so many things you can do with the food trailer as long as you have the credentials,” she said. “It’s just the flexibility of being able to move around without all of the overhead, because financially I just don’t have it. I literally started this from nothing except the pennies in my pocket and prayers.”
The many trials and tribulations Small has persevered throughout her entire life are merely a part of her story, but she won’t be defined by her struggles, she said. Her dedication and motivation are allowing her to carry out her lifelong joy and talent for cooking, becoming ingrained in communities, while also making her children proud and giving them the best life possible.